Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Heroes in Crisis #3 by Tom King - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: Tragedies deepen as more secrets behind the “superhero hospital” called Sanctuary are revealed! What compelled Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman to create it in the first place? How was it built? And if the hospital truly is alive via A.I., who — or what — is the brain of “Sanctuary?” Another layer peeled back in the biggest mystery woven through the entire DC Universe. 

Heroes in Crisis #3 by Tom King peels back another layer of the murder mystery plaguing Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman (none of whom make an appearance in this issue). Instead, King gives us a flashback to the day Booster Gold checked into Sanctuary, which just so happened to be the day of the murders.

Booster is struggling with something, and his entrance into Sanctuary reveals a little about how the whole thing works. Visitors wear masks and robes to conceal their identities, there is a common room and dining room, the confessional room, and something called the Chamber. The concept of the Chamber is pretty interesting, because it can create a simulation of whatever the client/patient/visitor (?) needs or wants to see and experience. Throughout this issue, we visit with and contrast the Sanctuary experiences of Lagoon Boy, Wally West (The Flash), and Booster Gold.

King is definitely slow playing this mystery, and I'm hooked. I couldn't believe how fast this issue read, and I'm already looking forward to the next issue. The suspects (Booster Gold, Harley Quinn) are interesting, and the concept of Sanctuary itself bears further exploration (counseling for heroes?). I'm also saddened by the death(s) of some of the heroes and villains, as a few were major players in the DC universe, while others seemed to be brought in as cannon fodder.

Tom King is becoming a major star in the comics world, if he isn't there already. His storylines and ideas are interesting, and he's been great with established characters like Batman and lesser known ones like Miracle Man. King's approach adds a depth to the characters that is often absent, and it adds gravitas to the proceedings. And while the individual issues are terrific, King's stories need to be read as collected editions to get the full effect. To that end, I would highly recommend Heroes in Crisis #3, but this isn't a good starting point (at this juncture, I don't believe any of the new issues will be). Regardless, I have a feeling that this series will be even better when it can be read straight through.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics in exchange for an honest review.

Books of Magic #2 by Kat Howard - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: Tim embraces his access to magic, trying to do as much as he can as quickly as his power will let him. Overwhelmed by enthusiasm and impatience, he ignores Dr. Rose’s warnings and fails to consider the consequences of his actions. And they could be dire.

Books of Magic #2 by Kat Howard picks up where the previous issue left off. Dr. Rose has encouraged Tim Hunter to learn magic, and Tim has been trying to read the books, which have no ink on them unless he is ready to read it, or something to that effect.

So, a couple of things are going on in this issue. One, Dr. Rose is chasing and fighting some sort of monster/evil/bad magic thing. In the other, Tim is beginning to learn how to use his magic, but is in a hurry and lacks experience. Add to that the fact that Tim desperately wants to find his mother while another group/cabal wants to find him, and you've got the makings of a problem.

At this point, I don't know what to think of Books of Magic. Howard hasn't hooked me yet, and I keep waiting to get invested in the characters. They are kind of cardboard-ish, and there isn't a lot to make them stand out. I know it's still early on, but I just don't care enough right now. I will hang in there for another couple of issues, but if I'm not drawn in soon, I'm going to bail.

Overall, Books of Magic #2 by Kat Howard is just okay. There is still some introduction going on, and it's a decent starting spot, but I'm not intrigued enough yet to make a long term commitment to this series. Give it a shot if you like Vertigo books, but be cautioned.

I received a preview copy of this book from Vertigo and DC Comics in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Cover #3 by Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: Cover goes to Paris as Max is sent to the iconic Angoul├¬me International Comics Festival, where he is about to receive their highest award. But did he earn it...or is it all part of an international spy cover operation? As the worlds of spycraft and comics clash in ways Max could never have imagined, his life—and more importantly, his artwork—begin to collapse around him! Don’t miss the latest chapter of this fierce new comic by the Inkpot, Peabody and Eisner Award-winning talents of Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack (SUPERMAN, Kabuki, Jessica Jones)!

Cover #3 by Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack is cool. We are dropped right back in to the story that left off in issue #2. Max Field has been captured and is being interrogated by Esad Sinns, international comics star and apparent foreign intelligence operative. The majority of the issue is spent with Max explaining how he got to where he is now, and he still hasn't given us the complete story.

Cover is becoming one of my favorite books. I've long enjoyed David Mack's art and stories (I loved the original Kabuki book) and Bendis is a terrific writer. Cover seems a perfect blend of their strengths, and the story flies by. Bendis does a great job adding depth to Max Field. He has a nice blend of naivete, wide-eyed wonder, and trust that makes him an easy character to root for. Julia, Max's CIA contact, is just believable enough yet still manipulating. I want to like her, but Bendis puts a touch of dishonesty and arrogance in her that causes the reader to second guess everything. With such a limited cast, Mack and Bendis are doing a wonderful job of creating a very believable world and scenario.

In addition to the main story, I really enjoy the panels from Ninja Sword Odyssey. Mack and Bendis have interspersed bits and pieces of the comic Max is famous for, allowing the reader to get a glimpse of why he is popular. I'm also sure that the parts of Ninja Sword Odyssey we get tie in to the theme and story of Cover. And I've got to say, if Ninja Sword Odyssey were an real comic, I definitely be reading it (hint hint, Bendis and Mack).

Cover #3 is another fun book from the duo of David Mack and Brian Michael Bendis. It's an entertaining what-if and this current issue continues the storyline, pushing the plot forward while still leaving us wanting more. I'm looking forward to seeing how or if Max Field can get out of his current predicament.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics and Jinxworld in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Dreaming #3 by Simon Spurrier - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: As the Dreaming slips deeper into chaos, its frightened denizens yearn for strong leaders to guide them back to greatness. Enter Judge Gallows: nightmare of the major arcana, terror of the old frontier, whose thoughts and actions come knotted in hemp...

Released from Morpheus’ black chest after a century in the dark, he may not be merciful—but he’s always right.

His first case? Lucien’s fitness to lead...

Changes are afoot in The Dreaming #3 by Simon Spurrier. Judge Gallows has been set free from his captivity in the Black Chest and he's going to straighten out the Dreaming. With the assistance of Mervyn Pumpkinhead, Judge Gallows conducts a sly takeover of the Dreaming while taking on both Lucien and Dora along the way. Also, something is up with Abel; his timid behavior is changing and Cain isn't sure he likes it.

So, at this point, The Dreaming is moving right along. Spurrier keeps adding challenges to the people trying to solve the mystery of why Dream left and where he is. Unfortunately, those challenges are keeping the reader from finding out, as well. I'm still intrigued enough (and a long-time fan of Sandman) to keep reading, but at some point in the near future the story needs to begin moving forward. Long story arcs are something of a Sandman tradition, but Gaiman also told shorter arcs that made up the larger story. I'm hoping Spurrier follows this example, as there are quite a few interesting characters and situations. However, for me, I would like to see some resolution to the missing Dream story (or at least some significant reveals) going forward, or eventually I'll begin waiting for the collected editions.

The Dreaming #3 is more of the same, as Simon Spurrier continues to present a version of the Dreaming that is very discombobulated. It's still worth reading, particularly if you are a Sandman fan. Keep in mind, though, that this story is getting more involved and pretty soon it may be too complex for new readers.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics and Vertigo in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

In Transition (Family Sports)

So over the past few weeks, both Griffin and Lexi made the school basketball teams, with Lexi just getting cleared to begin full practices as her stress fractures appear to be healed. She will be playing JV and Griffin will play on the 6th grade team. Cami's tryouts are near the end of the month.

Cami is wrapping up her travel basketball season, and the team has won all 3 of their games over the past two weeks, including a tournament game today. She scored 6 points today, and I think 6-10 in the two games last week. She had multiple steals, deflections, and rebounds. Last week she also had two blocks in one game. She is becoming a very good all-around player. Next week is the rest of the tournament; they play until they lose (not sure how many rounds are left).

This week, Lexi has her first two high school games, while Griffin's games don't begin until December.

Friday, November 2, 2018

James Bond: The Body HC by Ales Kot - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: As Bond undergoes a post-mission medical examination, he relays the story of his previous mission to the examiner. Each cut, bruise, and broken bone connected to a specific event of the mission. A connection is made between two people with different purposes: one to save lives, the other to take them.

PART TWO - THE BRAIN James Bond leads the interrogation of a scientist who allowed a lethal virus to be stolen. But when the investigation takes a surprising turn, Bond begins to question whether he is enough.

PART THREE - THE GUT One sauna. Twenty Neo-Nazis. One Bond. James Bond. This weapons deal won't go according to plan.

PART FOUR - THE HEART On the run from a lethal antagonist, weaponless and wounded deep in the Highlands, Bond finds solace with a woman who exchanged her job as a doctor and a life in the city for a cottage and solitary life of a writer.

Can Bond find a quiet peace unlike he has known before or will his life choices catch up with him? AND MORE..

James Bond: The Body by Ales Kot is the latest in Dynamite Entertainment's all-new James Bond mini-series/collected editions. They have all been good, and a couple of them I would even consider great. They have done a fine job of updating Bond to our current times, but keeping the spirit of Ian Fleming's original books. With The Body, Kot adds to this legacy with a fresh take on who Bond is. In this case, the story starts with Bond coming in for a routine physical/medical treatment after his latest adventures. The doctor observes his many scars and suggests that each tells its own tale.

Kot goes about telling his story in an episodic manner. Each chapter shows Bond on a different mission, yet by the end, they all pull together to show one cohesive plot that needed to be stopped. I thought this was a nice change from the more traditional longer story arc, as each chapter tells a complete story. This approach forces Kot to tell a tighter story, which results in very little, if any, filler. It also allows him to use different tones, ranging from violent anger to quiet contemplation. This presents us with a well-rounded James Bond, and I've always appreciated a deeper approach to the character. We see Bond a whole person, with both strengths and flaws, and Kot does a terrific job of balancing both. Additionally, each issue is drawn by a different artist, which further differentiates that each chapter is its own piece of a much larger story.

Overall, I found James Bond: The Body by Ales Kot to be an entertaining and fun Bond story that felt like one of Fleming's, which is a high standard. It is self-contained, so prior knowledge of previous series is not necessary, but a familiarity with the character adds to the level of enjoy. I will make one observation, though. The story was advertised as presenting a stories that coincided with Bond's scars; however, to my knowledge, that idea was only addressed at the very beginning and used as a springboard for the reader into the story as a whole. That doesn't change my thoughts on the book, but it could be misleading.

I received a preview copy of this book from Dynamite Entertainment and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.